A worker prepares Irani chai tea in The May Rose Cafe in Hyderabad. Irani chai once defined the cafe culture in India, having been a tradition since the 1940s. But it is today losing territory to the onslaught of modern coffee joints. Introduced by settlers from Persia, it is brewed over a slow flame from morning to evening in a metallic cooker called a handa. Milk is boiled and sweetened separately. When a customer calls for a cuppa, the tea master would fill a cup from the tap of the handa and add a little milk. Often called 90ml chai after its volume, it costs 10 to 12 rupees (Singapore 20 cents) a cup.